Martin Vinæs Larsen defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science – University of Copenhagen

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Martin Vinæs Larsen defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science

Martin Vinæs LarsenCandidate

Martin Vinæs Larsen


"Power Reveals how clarity of political responsibility shapes patterns of electoral accountability". 
The thesis is available as an e-book via Academic books

Time and venue

Friday 8 December, 2017 at 14:00 at the University of Copenhagen, Centre for Health and Society, Department of Political Science, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1353 Copenhagen K., room 4.2.26. Kindly note that the defence will start precisely at 14:00.

Assessment committee

  • Professor MSO Peter Thisted Dinesen, Department of Political Science (chair)
  • Associate professor Gabriel Lenz, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Professor Emeritus, Michael Lewis-Beck, University of Iowa, USA


In some democracies power is centralized in the hands of one national party, but in others it is spread across different political institutions, different levels of governments or across different parties. This dissertation explores what implications spreading power across disparate political actors have for voters' ability to hold these actors electorally accountabile for the policy outcomes they pursue.  The central argument is that power reveals the intent and ability of politicians, because power gives governing politicians the ability to make a visible difference in the lifes of the voters. As such, decentralized power hampers voters' ability to hold politicians accountable, because it becomes unclear which set of political actors are responsible for the state of affairs in the country (or municipality). As a result, voters are less likely to let their support for the incumbent government depend on typical political performance indicators, such as economic growth or the quality of public service provision, if the incumbent government is only one of many actors shaping these indicators. An important consequense of this is that politicians who are interested in pursuing the types of policy ourtcomes that voters prefer will have a higher chance of getting re-elected in political systems where power is less spread out.  All in all, the dissertation concludes that it can be democraticelly advantagous to centralize power in the hands of the few.
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